24 August 2009

Cycle Chic Top 10 List of Gorgeous Bicycles for Stylish Ladies

Welcome to Bicycle Culture 2.0, world. People all over the planet are starting to reacquaint themselves with the bicycles, not least stylish women.

Most of our mothers taught us rightly to sit up straight and the very first bicycles in the heady days surrounding the dawn of Bicycle Culture 1.0, back in the late 1800's, were designed with comfort and ease in mind. They were a far cry from the sports freaky toys like the Penny Farthing and they were, not surprisingly, quickly dubbed 'Safety' bicycles.

Your centre of gravity is more sensible and natural on an upright Safety. The step-through frame invites elegance and easy mounting and dismounting. The Safety is, in many ways, a design freak. In 130 years, few people have succeeded in improving on the design, so perfect is it. Simple and efficient.

The design of the Safety lives on 130-odd years later. It thrives like wildflowers in some countries in Europe and in Asia and is as rare as a tropical orchid in others. Nevertheless, it's out there, it's not going anywhere and it is now the ultimate transport option for those who choose style over speed. It is, quite simply, a modern urban status symbol.

We here at Cycle Chic figured we'd make a little Top 10 list of the proper upright bicycles that we find most aesthetic, stylish and just plain gorgeous. They may not be available near you, but you just tell your local bike shop to grow a brain. Now hitch up your skirts and onto the saddle... we're off. When we dismount, tell me which bike YOU prefer on the list. Just for fun.

#1 - The Velorbis Scrap Deluxe [Denmark]
Velorbis Scrap Deluxe for Ladies
While the design of the upright bicycle is largely unchanged in 130 years, there are small variations on the different brands. There is just something about the form of Velorbis Scrap Deluxe that appeals. It's swan-like the way the top bar sweeps gracefully up to the handlebars, which, in turn reach out towards the rider in an embrace. The steely finish is modern and simple and the creamy balloon tyres inviting. The Scrap Deluxe is the most upright of these upright bikes and is truly a machine that gently encourages you to choose style over speed. Velorbis also is one of the few brands in this globalised market that produce their bicycles in Europe - northern Germany to be precise. An added design plus in our books.
www.velorbis.com - Price: From 6500 kroner.

#2. The Umberto Dei Imperiale Donna [Italy]
Umberto Dei Imperiale Donna
Enter the Imperial Lady. I don't know what it is about the Imperiale Donna from Italian Umberto Dei. It makes me want to pedal about Milano or Firenze in a pencil skirt, killer heels and oversized sunglasses. Problem is, I'm a man, so I'll settle for sitting at a café in Milano or Firenze or any damn place and watching the woman I'm meeting roll up in a pencil skirt, killer heels and oversized sunglasses, elegantly dismount and clickclack over to our table, sitting down with a crooked, knowing smile in my direction.
www.umbertodei.it - Price: €1400

#3. Retrovelo's Klara [Germany]
Retrovelo Klara
Retrovelo is a cheeky brand. They come across as playful and passionate about their bicycles - which is what bicycles are all about. Their Klara model has retro all over it, and yet it appeals to our modern aesthetic sensibilities. The balloon tyres that are all the rage were fashionable back in the 1920's and they waltz harmoniously with the unusual frame colour, making the bike unique and just a tad cooler than most. The Klara is elegant, sure, but with just enough twinkle in her eye to make you blush.
www.retrovelo.de - Price: Circa €995

#4. Raleigh Glorie [Denmark]
Raleigh Glorie
Raleigh may be a recognisable brand name but they have long since pulled the plug on mainstream bicycles for everyday use and shifted focus to catering to the sub-cultural side of cycling. Not to worry. Help is at hand. A Danish company has long since saved the classic Raleigh from extinction and continues to make licenced versions based on the original 1920's designs. The Glorie is the lady in the Raleigh stable and, appropriately, 'glorie' means 'halo' in Danish. And angelic this bike is. Classic heritage, timeless design. A ride for urban angels. Minus: this bike is only available in Denmark. Plus: you get to come visit us.
www.raleighbikes.dk - Price: 4000 kroner.

#5. The Batavus Old Dutch [Netherlands]

cycle chic top 10 batavus old dutch
The Old Dutch from Dutch classic brand Batavus is a popular bicycle. It's the most inexpensive bicycle on this list and that may be why you see so many Danish students pedalling about on them. The design is classic upright goodness and, with a variety of colours, you can choose whatever fine ride suits your personality. Or matches your shoes.
www.batavus.nl - Price: €399

#6 The Adriatica Weekend [Italy]
Adriatica Weekend
Back to boot country to visit this other Italian classic, the Weekend, from Cicli Adriatica. Where the Imperiale Donna, above, begs to be ridden by frightfully stylish career women with worldly experience, the Weekend offers up visions of lovely female philosophy students flitting about from café to cinema to café. And since weekends last all week for any student worth their salt, the name fits nicely.
www.cicliadriatica.it - Price: No idea.

#7 The Gazelle Toer Populair [Netherlands]
Gazelle Toer Populair
For the better part of a century, sensible upright bikes were mostly painted black. Within the past decade or so, bike brands have finally woken up and gotten creative and thank Odin for that. This, however, does nothing to detract from the Toer Populair out of the Netherlands. Black is always the new black and this bike is simple and stylish in that no-nonsense Dutch way. The Toer Populair is reasonably priced, which makes it easier to adhere to point 7 of The Cycle Chic Manifesto - "I will endeavour to ensure that the total value of my clothes always exceeds that of my bicycle."
www.gazelle.nl - Price: from €599

#8 The Pashley Poppy [UK]
Pashley Poppy
For the British consumer a product that advertises the fact that it's "really old" and "British" is a big thumbs up. Most of us aren't British consumers. Fortunately, the Pashley Poppy is to British bicycles what Brit Pop was to a dull music scene in the late 1980's. Fresh, cheeky and easy on the eye/ear. It is simple and elegant and the blush pink colour adds a welcome splash to the urban landscape. With the classic lines and just a hint of nostalgia, the Poppy is aimed firmly at the bouncy 2010's.
www.pashley.co.uk - Price: £395

#9 The Skeppshult Nature [Sweden]
Skeppshult [prounounced Sheppshoolt] has, with a splash of venture capital, reinvented itself as an upmarket bicycle brand with focus on the proud design traditions of Scandinavia. They do it well and the Nature model is a mirror reflection of what I imagine sturdy country girls named Inga are like. I can see this mythical Inga rolling down country lanes to the shops or lifting it onto trains for trips to the big smoke where she has a secret fling with an architecture student, but her parents want her to marry the son of the lumber magnate on the farm down the lane.... oh dear... got carried away there.
www.skeppshult.com - Price: Haven't found it yet.

#10 The Arrow Barkley [Japan]

Arrow of Japan
I'm chucking in a wild-card here at number 10. Japan is one of the great bicycle cultures of the industrialised world, third only to Denmark and the Netherlands and the array of bicycles you see on the streets [and sidewalks] is otherworldly. Arrow Bicycles are known for their no-nonsense design and loyalty to simple elegance and functionality. The Barkley is simply so clean, so perfectly non-plussed that whether you're zipping through Shibuya Crossing in Tokyo or rolling gently through Omotesando, you know your bicycle is making you look just a little more gorgeous.
www.arrow.jp - Price: €510

The Contender - The Electra Ticino [USA]

Electra Ticino
I like what Electra do. They are a beacon of stylish mainstream cycling hope in a nation of spandex. The Ticino is on the list as a contender because it won't be out until 2010. Modelling itself on the classic lines of European bicycles from the 1940's and 1950's, the Ticino is a retromodern peach. I see many of these frame styles around Copenhagen and they are so very classic. Nice move, Electra.
www.electrabike.com - Price: TBA

Other Cycle Chic Guides:
The Cycle Chic Manifesto // Choosing a Bicycle // 'Cycling' Clothes // Cycling in Skirts and Dresses // DIY Skirtguards // Gentleman's Guide to Bespoke Bicycles //

The Bicycles of Copenhagen - #1 // The Bicycles of Copenhagen #2 - Danish Delight // The Bikes of Copenhagen #3 - Dutch Treat // The Bicycles of Copenhagen - Sweetly Swedish //


kfg said...

Are you aware that you are using the word "nonplussed" in its modern "We don't really speak English here" American form?

The word means "bewildered and confused."

Grammar-nazi over and out.

Anonymous said...

My wife has a Raleigh much like that design, only black, with no back rack (yet), and a heavy side kickstand. The coolest thing about it, are the rod-operated drum brakes by sturmey-archer, front and rear.

That's great that someone is still making Raleigh's that aren't meant for racing.

I really like that Gazelle, as well.

Dottie said...

Great list of beautiful bicycles! The Electra you mentioned looks exactly like the 2009 ladies' Amsterdam Sport. I test rode the diamond frame version here and liked it a lot, and the shop showed me the ladies' mixte frame version in the catalog. I wonder if they're changing the name only or if there will be other differences. The 9-speed Amsterdam Sport is $750.

Cosmo said...

Lovely bikes! I wish more of them were available her in Southern California. I have gotten to try the Old Dutch and the Gazelle though which are both great. I am surprised not to see Azor on the list though.

Colville-Andersen said...

re nonplussed: Recently in North American English nonplussed has come to mean unimpressed. wikipedia is The Truth :-)

Lovely Bicycle! said...

Nice list! I love Pashley, Gazelle and the Velorbis Scrap Deluxe, but was less impressed by the Batavus Old Dutch and the Electra when I tried them. I am dying to try a Retrovelo in person, but none of the shops where I live carry it. Another gorgeous bike worth mentioning is the Abici Granturismo. I have profiles of these with prices here. And I agree with you about the made in the EU attribute.

String Bean Jen said...

Ooh, mama wants me some of those! Though I think my #1 most desired bike is still a Kronan with their super bold colours and sturdy front rack. Yum.

André said...

Lovely list! Not a girl but my favourite is "Halo" - #4 :)

Will we have a gent list soon? Or we already had and i didn´t see?

Thanks :)

Colville-Andersen said...

andré: gents can go here.

anna said...

I cannot thank you enough for that list! I'm planning to buy a new bike, and this is some motivation to really go out there and check out what's available here.

Anonymous said...

Can I wave a flag for the Australian Gofa? A new contender, it is really good value, comes with basket, stand, lock and superbright dynamo light. And, if you buy the more expensive model you get 7 really good gears. I use 6 of them every day on my way to and from work (in a frock and heels).

Alexandra said...

Oh, dear, oh, dear, oh dear! That's some list, there! My head is still spinning! And that Scrap Deluxe beauty is haunting my dreams!

For a split second, I feared that the Skeppshult Nature had't made it into the top, but that would not have been an option here, where people know their bikes:)

Goregeously inspired - and inspirational! Thnks again, Mikael!

Charisa said...

I love the Raleigh Glorie!! Nice bikes!

alfo said...

An other gorgeous brand is the Belgian Achielle. They have several upright ladies bicycles, I'm totally in love with their "Julie" in Salmon color.

André said...

Thanks Mikael ;)

Christa said...

Great list, thank you.

I'd love to test all of them.

Runforyerlife said...

I second the Abici Grantourismo Donna http://www.abici-italia.it/index_ing.html

Bob Hellrich-Dawson said...

It looks like Trek has just released a couple new models that look very niiiice. And for the US market!

I like the Belleville quite a lot.


Anonymous said...

Velorbis Victoria for me! With Bo-bike seat at the back.

Mumbleboy said...

Hi Mikael,

Great post! I wrote sort of a related post on my blog about Japanese work bikes.


Not sure if they are exactly gorgeous bikes for stylish ladies, but they are great bikes in my opinion. Did you see them on your trip to Japan?

Kristin Walker said...

Oh those are all so beautiful! Does anyone know of US dealers that can sell these? As far as I know we can only get the Electras and Raleighs. I've heard the price point for most of those is too high for the current US Cycle Chic culture.

Colville-Andersen said...

thanks for all the comments and suggestions.

the raleigh on the list is only available in Denmark. Velorbis and batavus and gazelle are available in the usa, as far as i know.

Bikebabe said...

I think Velorbis is available in the US - I have a friend who has enquired before. I have a Scrap Deluxe and it IS gorgeous! Definitely the best on the bike block. I get so many comments when i'm out and about.

Andrew said...

Nice list!
How can the Gazelle Toer Populair be only number 7......this is a Danish blog I guess ;)

The list would have some credibility if it was at least higher than the Batavus Old Dutch...:)

Nico said...

Nice list, I have to admit! Have you looked at Finnish bike design from Helkama? I somehow find for example this low frame design quite attractive:

'Xander Labayen said...

i'm glad to see the velorbis with baloon tires on this list, they add a great bouncy feel to the ride ... my wife got a VIVA juliette with the same schwalbe baloon tires, cause velorbis are almost impossible to get here in canada.

great list!

timb said...

Hi there. I love this blog, it's an original concept and very fun to read. I have a new cycling website called IronLegs. Its a community driven cycling website where cycling blog authors and readers can post interesting cycling related articles to share with the community so that by subscribing to the feed, you get all the latest and best articles from the internet without searching.
This article is one of the first to be added. Congrats :)
I would love you to contribute your future articles, it will help you get a lot more traffic too. Happy cycling, Tim.

Anonymous said...

They are all pretty machines, but any list will always be incomplete if THE is not included. Go and check for yourself at http://www.diamantrad.com/modelle/125-jahre/topas-retro-125.html
Style over advertises!

Denise said...

oooh, yummy bikes. Can anyone recommend one suitable for a tall girl? (I'm 181cm...nearly 6foot) and currently ride a men's mountain bike cos none of the ladies are tall enough for me

Anonymous said...

Brompton folding bikes can be considered for their looks as well as their compactibility (20" x 20") ease of travel by bus, car, train, boat , plane. Theft proof and rust proof as they live under desks - recommended for urban commuters. Popular in London.

bettyschaeffer said...

Oh my God - total bike porn here, I'm gonna have to take a cold shower!

So many cool bikes - thanks for posting the photos.

I ride an Electra Amsterdam 3 - Electra is a company here in California that makes Euro style bicycles. I picked a blue one in 2007 and paid less than $600.

Long Beach/L.A.

Anonymous said...


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Nonato Jácome


Adrienne Johnson said...

Screw the bikes! I want to see you in a pencil skirt and high heels! I mean, a bike is a bike, but a man in a pencil skirt...

Anton Stempher said...

Nice to see all hese european bikes here,

But as a Dutchman I am wondering, do you american people wear helmets when you are riding these kind of bikes?

I was just wondering

Colville-Andersen said...

Anton: who are you speaking to? This is a Danish blog, from the World's Cycling Capital, Copenhagen.

bedava oyun indir said...


David said...

you forgot CIVIA

Hazel said...

Oh what a nice list. I really want an Electra Ticino. I have been making a list of possible new bikes for a while now and it is definitely a fav!

dokinchan said...

My brother has an Arrow, and I've been considering getting one too as it makes me drool a fair bit. It does have its down sides though--no gears for one thing, and the light is a bit more plasticy than the bike deserves. Still, it's gorgeous.
I just bought a bridgestone step through model that arrives tomorrow. So much choice here for nice bikes you can pedal in a skirt, but glad you included at least one.

Sometimes history rhymes said...

"While the design of the upright bicycle is largely unchanged in 130 years"

Maybe 115 to 120 years as the safety bicycle was an 1890 creation and the frame style you cite took a couple years to be developed after 1890.

Gina said...

I just reviewed the Dannebrog by Velorbis on my blog nohocyclechic.blogspot.com

It's been publisehed on Velorbis.com as well.


No Ho Cycle Chic

Anonymous said...

...I don't see Johnny Loco's Womens Delux on the list. It is stunning and rides like a dream! Please consider adding it!

Colleen said...

Electra Townie bikes (the plain ones, not the silly ones) are really really classic bikes, that *real people* with health issues can ride. Bad knees? It's ok, the pedals are further forward than usual, so you can ride...even further forward than other upright bikes. If that isn't a hope for a country without enough bicyclists, I don't know what is!

It's the only bike I've been able to pedal.

Anonymous said...

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Unknown said...

Comparing the cruiser bicycle, i think Velorbis Deluxe is the most stylish for me.

amoeba said...

While I'm a fan of Cycle Chic and what it stands-for, I'm a little puzzled at your inclusion of two of these bicycles.

#10 The Arrow Barkley [Japan]
No mudgards and no chain-case or guard.


Unnumbered - The Contender - The Electra Ticino [USA]
No chain-case or guard.

While I'm not disputing their elegance, but unless I've completely missed the point of Cycle Chic, these two bicycles would surely hint at the necessity of some form of cyclist related clothing, or endanger the rider's clothing in becoming besmirched or marred with some variety of grime.

Of course, it's quite possible that I'm taking this too seriously.

amoeba said...

My lovely wife has recently taken ownership of a Pashley Princess Sovereign, in black.

Karena said...

I cannot even decide which of these luxurious bicycles I adore most!!

Andrea from French Basketeer sent me over, so glad she did!!

Oh and be sure to come and join my Amazing Giveaway from Splenderosa!

Art by Karena

Karena said...

I cannot even decide which of these luxurious bicycles I adore most!!

Andrea from French Basketeer sent me over, so glad she did!!

Oh and be sure to come and join my Amazing Giveaway from Splenderosa!

Art by Karena

Christian said...

None of the bikes shown here come even close to a Swedish Crescent ladies' bike from the 40's, aesthetically. And believe it or not, they roll beautifully.

baudman said...

SWMBO with her MASI Soulville Mixte.

I really like* what MASI have done with this. Their Soulville has one of those nice sweeping arcs through the top tube and seat stays. So, with the mixte, they have the same arc, but they've flipped it.

*More importantly, she LOVES it. It's her daily commuter - now with rear rack, dynohub and Brooks B.67S.

bike hire brisbane said...

oh my. all these bikes are beautiful. it would have to be #1 and #10 for our choice. great collection of bikes. now just what to accessorize them with?

ויזה לארה"ב said...

I whish I could buy my wife bikes like these. They are so pretty but so pricy as well.

Kurt said...

All very nice bikes. And I like the word pictures you paint about their possible owners. "Lovely female philosophy students" indeed.

Zoey said...

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Unknown said...

I think is cool that both in the Cycle Chic book and the web site there are pictures of men riding step through (women's ) cycles.
As I get older it would be a lot easier to step thru then swing the old leg over the bar